Tony DiNozzo, Aaron Hotchner, Tobias Fornell, David Rossi
Tony DiNozzo/Aaron Hotchner
Darker fic – Tony is suffering from depression and anxiety. Ant-Ziva and Anti-Abby in a big way.
Word Count 4504
WARNING: May be triggery for those with depression or anxiety. This is not a happy DiNozzo in this story snippet.
Full Version May Contain:
Characters: Dr. Spencer Reid, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Abby Sciuto, Ziva David, Tim McGee, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, Jimmy Palmer, other BAU team members
Relationships: Reid/?, Gibbs/?, Reid/Gibbs,
Content: Anti-Senior, Non-Cannon Compliant: NCIS and Criminal Minds, Tony Leaving NCIS, Discussion of Mental Illnesses, Thoughts of Suicide,
Summary: Tony has been hidden from the world after being targeted by people he thought he could trust, but instead almost completely ruined his life. He’s been in the dark so long that he can’t see the light anymore. That is until the Unit Chief for the BAU steps through the door of one of his favorite restaurants. Safety and love may be closer than he believes, but is he brave enough to take the chance?
#4 Lay me Down in the Safety of your Arms & Protect me from my Demons
Tony was sitting in the waiting area of his favorite steak place, when he noticed someone walk in out of his peripheral vision. Tony knew that he shouldn’t have shown up in a place so known as being one that he frequented, but he needed the hint of familiar. Turning his head to check out the newcomer, he forgot how to breathe and simultaneously decided that it had been worth the risk.
Tall, dark hair, nice suit, and intense look on his face. The man pushed every one of Tony’s buttons. When he heard the man ask for a table for one, he couldn’t resist the impulse to take a shot at something good. He desperately needed something in his life that he didn’t have to hide from or be afraid of. On that day, at that time this stranger was worth the risk.
“We could dine together, and take a table for two.”
When that intense gaze swung his way, Tony put on his best smile thankful that he’d put on one of his more favorite suits that morning. He almost fist pumped when the corner of the hunk’s mouth lifted slightly.
“I’m game. It’ll be nice to have such appealing dinner company. Usually my only dinner companions are coworkers.”
In that case, I can seat you both right away,” the hostess chirped brightly picking up two menus. “Tony and Mr. Hotchner, please, follow me.”
Once they reached their table and were seated, the two ordered their drinks both settling on different local craft beers. After the woman left, Tony was left alone with his impulsive decision.
“So, do you always lurk in waiting areas to pick up hungry single men?” Aaron asked. This time there was no doubt about the smirk on his face.
“Only when I’m hungry and someone walks in that pushes as many of my buttons as you do.” Tony admitted smoothly and honestly.
“Oh?” Aaron questioned still smirking at his dinner companion.
“Tall, dark hair, intense expression, and amazing suit.” Tony listed smiling happily. When Aaron chuckled bowing his head slightly as if embarrassed, Tony counted it as another win.
“Suits?” Aaron questioned and Tony nodded quickly.
“I’m Italian. We are very passionate about pasta being homemade, and a man wearing a well cut suit.”
When Aaron laughed and shook his head, Tony was intrigued. “I should have known. With all of the years that I have known Dave, I should have guessed that you were Italian. If it helps, I am a fan of homemade lasagna, and all my suits get custom tailored.”
“Well then, I will have to make sure that date #2 is at some point I cook for you. That is if this Dave won’t mind too much.”
Aaron grinned at the subtle dig for information. He would only imagine Dave being thrilled that Aaron had made an attempt at something that led to a second date. He was saved from responding immediately when the waiter came to take their orders. Pausing their conversation momentarily, they put in their request for two rib eyes, both with baked potatoes and wedge salad, one steak with blue cheese butter, and the other with sautéed mushrooms. Once the man left, Aaron replied.
“David Rossi, my friend and mentor, is one of my coworkers and he won’t mind at all. Technically he’s a subordinate, but when you basically created the BAU it gets tricky.”
Tony’s eyes widened slightly as he tried to hold in his fanboying. “You work with David Rossi? His books are required reading in the criminal psych class I am taking this semester.”
Aaron lifted an eyebrow intrigued. “I suppose I should introduce myself. Aaron Hotchner, Unit Chief over the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico. You’re taking a criminal psych class?”
Tony found himself relaxing in his seat the longer they talked. He’d known that his jaunt to a favorite spot was risky, but he also knew himself well enough to understand that it was needed. For far too long he’d been forced into solitude, and for someone who thrived on social interaction it was nearly torture. This handsome and charming man was exactly what he needed.
“I like taking classes when I have time. I know most people get their degree, and never look back to college. For me though, I need something to keep my brain busy, so I’ve taken courses wherever I could since I graduated. I quit NCIS about a year ago, and afterward realized that I was close to my master’s degree in psychology. So, I decided to finish that and see what doors that it would open for me.”
Flashing his most charming smile, Tony continued. “Anthony DiNozzo, Junior at your service. Although my father would tell you that he’s the real Anthony DiNozzo. Do you know Tobias Fornell?”
Aaron nodded before answering. “I do. Although, I don’t know him well. He a friend of yours?”
Tony considered the question before shrugging. “Probably closer to frenemies I think. He and my former boss share an ex-wife. I’m not sure I can count someone who has tried to arrest me twice for murder as a friend. He’s ok though. I’d trust him with my six.”
Aaron paused, the beer bottle that he was about to take a sip out of halfway to his mouth. “You’ve been accused of murder twice?”
Tony sighed reading the man’s sudden uncertainty, and kicked himself. He just couldn’t help but ruin shit for himself. Of course someone with enough integrity to be put in charge of the BAU would not want to take a chance on a loser who has been accused of murder twice.
He knew that he would have to explain. He wanted to have hope, but he didn’t have any left. Even though neither of the accusations went anywhere, there was no way that this man would want him anymore. It killed him to know that things that he had no control over were going to cost him this change. People were assholes, and Tony was out of inner strength.
“No offense, but some of your fellow FBI agents are incompetent assholes. The first5 time they tried to charge me with murder, they didn’t even have a full body. If it wasn’t for my former team, I’d be in prison right now. It turned out that some guy who got fired from an independent lab because I questioned evidence results for a case while I was with Baltimore PD held a grudge.”
Tony’s gaze was firmly focused on anywhere but his dinner date, and therefore missed the look of concern on Aaron’s face. Taking a sip of his beer, Tony continued.
The second was when the father of a former undercover target of mine was killed. My former director had a… grudge against an arms dealer. She found out that his daughter worked at one of the local hospitals and sent me in to find out if she had any information on him. Unfortunately, I got attached to her, and when the op ended… Well Jeanne didn’t take it well. When her father was killed, she decided that it was the perfect time to get her revenge, and told the investigating FBI agent that I was the most likely suspect. The fact that she really wanted to make me guilty is enough to make it so. I know it won’t help your sudden doubt, but I have never killed anyone outside the line of duty. I understand that my words aren’t enough though.”
Tony sighed as that intense gaze was turned up full force. He in that moment imagined what it must be like to be in an interrogation room with the man. So much for something good entering his life.
“You sound as if you are used to people believing the worst in you automatically,” Aaron pointed out, and Tony just shrugged. This wasn’t the normal conversation that he’d have with a date. Of course, he didn’t date many profilers, and this impulsive act looked like it was going to blow up in his face.
“I don’t remember ever calling my father anything but Senior. He’s not really kidding when he says that he’s the original Anthony DiNozzo. I’ve never been up to snuff in his eyes. Although, most who meet him would tell you that he’s a charming man, and eventually would agree with him. I’m just the ungrateful son who doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices that my conman father made for me.”
Tony snorted unhappily, and lifted his beer as if making a toast. “I guess I should have gotten more out of the beatings and the drunken lectures on how I’d never make it out of the gutter. He knows how to charm someone though. So, that’s all that is important, right?”
Pulling out his wallet, Tony threw money on the table before standing. “I’m sorry for intruding on your evening. I am sure this isn’t what you were looking for. You have my fullest apologies.”
Aaron didn’t know what exactly happened from there, but fifteen minutes later, with two dinners in boxes, he was heading toward his car without having paid a dime. Once he got back to his apartment, he gave himself time to eat and think about the encounter. He didn’t exactly know what to think.
Normally he’d write it off as a bad date, and with the murder charges as well as the con man father, he should probably be thankful that he’d gotten away so easily. As he was going to bed that night though, he was still thinking about one Tony DiNozzo, Junior, and wondering what happened to turn the charming man he’d set down at the table with to turn him into the depressed and disillusioned man who’d left.
Early the next morning, Tony lay in bed staring at the wall. A cough exploded from his chest, and he absently rubbed his chest as he listened to the wheeze every time that he took a breath. He might as well get up, as he knew that he wouldn’t get any more sleep. So, despite the fact that it was four something o’clock in the too goddamned dark AM, he was out of bed.
Forcing himself to stand, Tony continued to rub his chest, as he made his way to the bathroom. Pulling out his rescue inhaler, he eyeballed the Xanax that his doctor prescribed for use as needed, and reluctantly. Only to immediately set it down on the sink as he decided if he would take it. Taking a hit from the inhaler, he studied himself in the mirror.
He was trying to ignore the tightness of his skin, and the crawling feeling as if hundreds of spiders were creeping all over his body. He was tired of being a spectacular mess. He just wanted to find someone who would love him, flaws and broken bits included. He wasn’t sure that he could imagine why someone would want to make the effort.
Logically, he knew that was the depression talking, but he couldn’t seem to make it stop. He felt like a failure because he couldn’t, although again there was a part of him that understood it was how it worked. Understanding something logically, and being able to believe it though didn’t apparently always go hand in hand. He didn’t like the as needed medication that he’d been prescribed. He knew what a huge addition risk it was, and frankly he had no plans to end up like Senior.
Leaving the bathroom and the Xanax behind, Tony made his way through the apartment that he hated. He missed his beautiful condo. He missed his piano. This place was… This was just a stop on his road to something better. It was something he told himself on almost an hourly basis. He only hoped that in the end it would all be worth it.
This place was owned by the friend of a friend of a… removed enough from himself that it’d not be able to track it back to him. After leaving NCIS he’d found that it had been necessary to put himself into hiding. The solidarity of that act alone was enough to cause the depression and anxiety that he’d been diagnosed as suffering from. Ziva and Abby had given him no other choice in his loneliness.
Abby hadn’t been happy that he quit. It was no secret that the woman, who acted more child than adult, didn’t like change. When she’d been unable to convince him to change his mind with the whining and the verbal manipulation and the hitting she’d moved on to more extreme measures.
She’d hacked his banking and credit card accounts that she’d been able to find stealing the money in them and cancelling his credit cards. Every time the banking and credit card companies tried to correct the fraud, she just simply did it again. She advised that she’d return the money and reactivate the cards only after he admitted his wrong doing and returned to NCIS.
When that didn’t work she turned off all of his utilities, and cancelled his DirecTV. She’d reported his car loan defaulted, and had the vehicle repossessed. He made multiple complaints, but justice seemed to be slow moving. Then there was Ziva.
She hadn’t taken Gibbs’ decision well either. She’d been sure that he’d chose her over Tony, and throw him off the team, putting her in the Senior Field Agent position. When that didn’t happen, she tried to backtrack and wheedle her way onto the plane and the team. Gibbs stood firm though, and left her standing on the tarmac watching the plane leave.
Everyone assumed that she would go back to Mossad. That hadn’t happened though. Instead she’d decided that revenge was the way to go, and worked to find her own way back to the US. Once back in DC, she’d quickly found Abby, and the two of them decided to make sure they got their way.
At first, Tony thought that he was just getting paranoid when he kept seeing Ziva around town at his favorite places, and even on campus. When he’d come home one night though, and entered his locked apartment to find the walls covered in the word murderer in both English and Hebrew he knew that he had a serious problem. It hadn’t escaped his notice the timing of his utilities and DirecTV being shut off on the same day. The car had been missing when he’d left for school that morning, and he’d been forced to take a bus to campus.
Gibbs and Fornell both promised him that they were working on it, but last that he heard both women were still on the loose. The only thing that had been accomplished was basically making Tony a prisoner in some crappy apartment. He didn’t even have his car back, because Fornell had been forced to take it as evidence after the second time Abby had it repossessed.
It was all exhausting. His home was empty. He had to go to school online, limiting him to only bi-monthly campus visits to check in with his advisors. He was anxious all of the time. He was depressed, and he constantly felt paranoid. He needed one good thing in his life to happen so that he could believe that a better future was possible.
Mr. Tall, dark, and handsome had been it, and he’d blown it by bringing up his fucked up past. He shouldn’t have been there at all, but he’d needed something familiar. When Aaron came in he decided to take a risk. Then he’d had a panic attack and ruined the whole thing. He seriously needed someone to tell him that it would all be ok. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep believing his own pep talks.
Two weeks after his impromptu dinner date, Aaron was still turning the puzzle of his companion’s sudden departure over in his head. There was something about Tony that he was finding irresistible. Before the murder accusations came up, he’d been incredibly charming and witty. Then the second the past issues with the FBI came up, things had done a 180.
Aaron idly wondered if this was how Spencer field after social interactions, because for the life of him he couldn’t figure out how things went wrong. He’d pulled the case files on the two accusations, and was frankly appalled at how they were handled. The first one never should have happened. Agent Sacks jumped the gun and seemed to go after Tony before he had all of the facts. How do you accuse someone of murder, when you don’t even know who the deceased person is? Finding out that the leg belonged to a live accident victim who had lost the appendage in an accident should have been an easy find. While the rest of it was apparently harder to decipher, finding out the woman was alive would have made the rest of the evidence irrelevant.
The fact that the victim’s daughter made the accusation should have been investigated much better before Tony was even questioned. To pull an undercover operative in for questions about murdering a former op target solely based on the word of a disgruntled daughter who was jilted in the op was in his opinion not something he would have authorized. He would have wanted better evidence than her suspicion that he was a valid suspect. Aaron decided that he needed a second opinion.
An hour later, he found himself in Tobias Fornell’s doorway with two cups of coffee. “Do you have a minute?” He asked. The surprise and curiosity were obvious on the other man’s face.
After being waved in and shutting the door behind him, Aaron sat gibing the other man one of the cups. “It’s personal,” Aaron warned crossing one leg over the other as he got comfortable.
“I’m intrigued now,” Tobias admitted leaning back in his chair. “How could I possible help the great Aaron Hotchner with a personal matter?”
Aaron snorted and rolled his eyes at the man before answering. “I understand that you and Tony DiNozzo are… I believe the word enefriends was used.”
Tobias chuckled. “That had to come from DiNutzo. Wait, you aren’t looking at him for a case are you? Look, just give it up now. I don’t care who is accusing him of killing who. He didn’t do it. The kid is as annoying as all get out, but he’s not a killer. Sometimes he’s too good and honest for this job in my opinion. It gets him into trouble with people who take advantage of it.”
“It sounds as if you like him,” Aaron commented, and was a little surprised at how quickly Fornell agreed.
“He’s one of the best agents that I have ever worked with. Just his ability to pull leads out of nothing is reason enough to have him on any team. If you tell him I said any of that though I will deny it. In the year since he’s quit working in the seventh level of hell, I’ve hired him three times as a consultant when one of my teams was stuck on a case.”
Tobias smirked as he thought about what NCIS let slip through their fingers. “In each instance he’s reviewed the materials we had at his home, and come up with the bit of information we needed to get the lead or conviction. I know for a fact that Morrow at Homeland has used him in the same manner. I also know that his old team’s solve rate has gone down by at least 10% since he left. Trust me they are kicking themselves for letting him go. It’s a definite case of not appreciating what you had until it was gone. None of this is personal though. So, how about you tell me why you’re here Unit Chief Hotchner.”
Aaron smiled at the protective tint to the demand. It sounded like Tony had at least one person in his life who was looking out for the man’s best interests. He hoped that boded well for this discussion.
“I met him at a restaurant two weeks ago. I wanted a good steak, and to avoid people I knew. As I was giving the hostess my name, he suggested that we eat together. To be honest, I have no idea why I accepted other than he’s an incredibly attractive man. Everything was going fine. In fact, I was having a wonderful evening. Then he mentioned that you accused him of murder twice. I asked if people usually expect the worst of him, and…. I don’t know what happened. The next thing I knew I was walking out of the restaurant alone with a bag full of two free dinners.”
Tobias sighed, and ran a hand over the top of his head. “I am glad that he finally got out of that apartment he’s holed up in. I wish he hadn’t gone alone though. So, I am glad he had you for backup for a little while. Even if you had no idea that backup was needed. I’ve never been so frustrated by a case in my entire career. If there was ever one that needed to end, and end with a positive resolution, it’s this one.”
Tobias picked up his coffee looking like he wished that it was something much stronger. Taking a drink, Aaron waited impatiently before the other man continued. “I don’t know how much he told you about his life. He was an agent with NCIS acting as the Senior Field Agent on their Major Crimes Response Team under Lead Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs until about a year or so ago.
“NCIS wasn’t good for Tony there toward the end of his time with them. Jethro may be one of my best friends, but he has no clue how to run a team without burning out his people and creating a cesspool of dysfunction. He loves to pit his people against each other believing that it brings out the best in them. Unfortunately, when you have someone as loyal as Tony was to him, it only creates insecurity and breaks down even the strongest of personalities. When you have someone whom has been conditioned in his childhood, as I suspect Tony was, to believe the absolute worst about him at all times all you create is larger issues.”
Aaron frowned at the picture forming in his head. Everyone in the DC area law enforcement community had heard of Gibbs. Aaron always wondered if the rumors were more myth than reality. Now he was beginning to worry if they were not even a fraction of the actual reality.
“While Tony needs at times a strong hand to keep him on track, he also needs positive reinforcement at times. He needs to know that someone believes in him, without him having to beg for scraps of affection. He’s been conditioned to be distrustful of any kind of positive affection, and needs someone that will fight through that instead of just avoid it like Tony wants.
“Now keep in mind, I don’t know Tony as well as Gibbs did. I’ve worked cases with his team over the years, but it’s well known that he sees himself as Gibbs’ loyal Saint Bernard. The majority of my opinions were formed from my limited interactions with him, and from things that Jethro has told me over the years. I will be the first to admit that I wish those two accusations were handled differently. Unfortunately, both times the decision was taken out of my hands. Often I am just the go between with the rest of the FBI and Gibbs. From what Jethro has told me though, the last thing the kid needed was more manipulative people in his life. Unfortunately, that was really all that he was surrounded by at NCIS.”
When the older man stopped speaking, and appeared to be studying him, Aaron remained quiet. Eventually, Tobias continued. “I am going to trust you, because you have a good reputation. I also know that Dave Rossi thinks the world of you. I will tell you right now though, if whatever these personal reasons of yours are come to be less than honorable, I will end you. I may not be the leader of the FBI’s precious BAU team, but I’ve been around this political block more than a few times. I have enough favors owed, and influence with the right people that you won’t be able to lead a team of German Shepherds let alone something as valued as the Behavioral Analysis Unit, capisce?”
Aaron nodded when it seemed as if Tobias was expecting some kind of response. “Tony is a hell of a man. He deserves someone good in his life. He’s a lot smarter than any of those jackals at NCIS ever gave him credit for. To be fair, some of that is on Tony. However, you would think that after all this time a team of investigators could see around and beneath a few masks.”
Aaron lifted an eyebrow at the snort of disgust Tobias let out, and the force put behind throwing the empty coffee cup into the trash can. “There are some things going on in his life. Things that would have broken a lesser man well before now, and are wearing heavily on him. Things went sour at NCIS, and when Tony walked away a couple people didn’t take it well. The kid is in a bind, and practically living like a fugitive. In my opinion we need a different angle on this. Maybe…”
Tobias stared past Aaron, and it was obvious that he was again coming to some decision. So, once more, Aaron remained quiet as he waited somewhat patiently for answers.
“Tell you what,” Tobias finally said. “Give me an hour. I’ll come up to your conference room. I’d like it if Rossi and that tech genius girl of yours could be there. Maybe if the kid has you in his personal life, and Rossi and that girl of yours helping on this side we can get him out of this mess. On second thought, include that genius of yours. He kinda of reminds me of a kid at NCIS that Tony is friends with. Maybe, maybe we’ll get lucky and he and Tony will form a friendship.”
When the man stood and held out his hand, Aaron nodded. He still didn’t have answers, but at least he was on the right path. As the worry ate at his gut, he hoped that the answers weren’t going to be as bad as he was afraid they would be. Standing he stood and shook the offered hand before heading out to gather the requested people. Answers were coming, and he would see to it that Tony made it out in one piece.